Alexandra Klimas – Cow Paulintje
Cow Paulintje, oil on canvas, 23x 39 in. | 60×100 cm.
Born in 1970 in the Netherlands, Alexandra Klimas is a self-taught artist but looking at her artwork, it seems like an impossible proposition. Klimas is a hyperrealist painter, her works look unnervingly real, her subject matter tangible, and were it not a painting, probably audible. The artist’s models are animals, some of her favorite are black-and-white cows, and in her oil on canvas pieces they all become portraits. They are given names, and with that, force the viewer into an intimate relationship, which is precisely the goal of this animal-loving painter. It also sets her apart from others who painted animals, and there were many. Animals can be found in art from any epoch, but usually as part of the background. Here they are center stage, right in front of our eyes, impossibly real, while at the same time clearly symbolic. They may have names, but they stand for the entire species, as well as for our human relationship with animals. Klimas began paining early, drawn to landscape and space. She spent a lot of time on her grandfather’s farm, enamored of nature, and in particular, the animals. Set against tranquil meadows, the cows in her portraits appear as carriers of that message, and perhaps one of their own personal, unencumbered, contentment. The dialogue between the artist and the model manifests itself in these paintings as an intrinsic emotional component of the composition, altering the reading of the work. There is an aspect of protest as well, despite the bucolic setting in many of the paintings. Due to environmental concerns, cows in Holland are not allowed on grass, thus the cow paintings can be seen as the artist’s commentary on the legislation, a commiseration with the animal, and a paean to a disappearing landscape.
Her choice of medium is inexorably linked to her subject matter; oil on canvas possessing the indispensable qualities for such fine execution. Unlike photorealists, Klimas is purely a painter, and as mentioned earlier, an autodidact, making her creative achievement even more impressive. It also, in a subtle way, adds to the personal aesthetic of her work. In the annals of art history, the chapter on Hyperrealism is populated with myriad world-renowned artists, and ultimately what sets each one apart is the subject matter, far more than the quality of the work, which should never be in dispute.
Such is the case with Alexandra Klimas’ paintings that strike with the high caliber of execution, the astounding precision and adherence to pictorial demands. The lighting is also quite spectacular in many of the paintings, the dramatic contrast of black and white, both on the animal, and as part of the background, creating a feel of Old Masters, of a mystery going beyond the image.
Other farm animals appear in Alexandra’s canvases, and each is treated with the same painterly affection. But there is no denying, that the latest series, with its stoic but theatrically expressive model – the cow – is in a league of its own, and will further the artist’s already prolific career.
director at Kontemporary Art Gallery